Pressure cooker

Nick Smith/PrepsKC

By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: November 7, 2015 - 12:12 AM

In a game that looked like the teams may combine for more than 100 points, Olathe North turned up the defensive pressure on their way to a 35-28 win over Blue Valley North.

The two teams combined for 49 points in the first 13 minutes, but the Eagles defense decided that was just about enough, shutting the Mustangs out the rest of the way to advance to the sectional round of the Class 6A playoffs next week against Shawnee Mission East, a winner over Blue Valley Northwest in another 6A regional matchup Friday night.

“It really wasn’t about making any adjustments,” North head coach Chris McCartney said. “We were just adjusting to the reality of being in a game against an offense like that.

“It’s tough to simulate that type of offense in practice, so we just had to see what they were doing and adjust.”

The Eagles used a pair of impressive drives in the second half — one in the third and one in the fourth quarter — to wrestle control away from the upstart Mustangs, who entered the game 8-1.

The score that brought the Eagles to within one (after a missed extra point) came on a seven-yard touchdown run by Vinnie Shabazz, capping an impressive 94-yard drive midway through the third quarter.

The game winner started on the 50-yard line with 10 minutes left in the game and ended with a nine-yard touchdown run by Matt Wright. The big play of the drive came just one play before the score when Wright called his own number off left tackle, cut back to the middle spun off of two tackles and picked up 15 on a crucial third-and-nine play.

From there, the defense took over.

They stuffed the Mustangs on a pair of runs on the ensuing possession, turning them over on downs, then turned up the pressure on Blue Valley North backup quarterback Josh Pederson. Starter Joey Dolan was out much of the second half with a dislocated finger.

“We really just had calm down a little bit,” said Eagles linebacker Rustin Hiebert, who was in on two fourth-quarter sacks. “We stayed positive, got into man coverage and that really let us stay home at linebacker to be able to make some plays.”

Wright had 102 yards rushing and another 169 passing and along with one rushing and two passing touchdowns. Simmons had three catches — two for touchdowns — for 152 yards. Shabazz finished the night with 33 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

“These were two really good teams out here tonight,” Blue Valley North head coach Andy Sims said. “Both teams had to make some adjustments (after the first quarter) and they just made better adjustments.”

There was no defense in sight in the first quarter Friday night as both teams combined for 42 points. The score was tied at 21 after just 12 minutes.

After the Eagles went three and out on their first drive of the game, the teams traded touchdowns over the next 10-plus minutes.